· Released in advance of the upcoming PBS mini-series Freedom: A History of Us, this Tuesday the Columbia Legacy imprint is issuing the companion single- or three-CD set of Freedom: Songs from the Heart of America. Pitching up and down like the terrain of the Rockies or the Appalachian Trail, these vintage oddities and latter-day-classic selections are delightfully limber, then somber, but always bursting with life. I recommend slowing down and drinking deep from the three-CD version with personal favorites like a dandy 1917 recording of "Yankee Doodle" by The Broadway Quartet, Bert Williams' "When the Moon Shines on the Moonshine" from 1920, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman's "Shenandoah Lullabye," and interpretations of "Amazing Grace" by Willie Nelson and "America the Beautiful" by Keb Mo. Among selections from Simon & Garfunkel, Les Brown's Band of Renown, Bob Dylan, and Harold & The Blue Notes, other highlights include Dan Zanes & Suzanne Vega's "Erie Canal," Richie Haven's "Freedom," Gene Autry's "The Death of Mother Jones," and Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon." This 67-track collection is a perfect soundtrack for the educational family road trip or daydream-surfing through our country's musical heritage. Look for January's airing of the eight-hour mini-series to feature voiceovers by Paul Newman, Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Christopher Reeve.
· Equally refreshing from the heartland is a special two-LP re-issue this month of both the rare 1976 and 1977 homegrown releases by the Langley Schools Project, nine- to 12-year-old rural Canadian schoolchildren magically captured performing vocal material by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Fleetwood Mac. Unlike the recent Bar None Records' CD of these golden sessions, this new vinyl re-issue on the Gammon label features two tracks not on the CD and replicates the covers and labels of the originals, nearly impossible to locate as only 300 of each were ever pressed.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Alanis Morissette on Thursday, Peter Gabriel on Friday, and The Vines on Monday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts Tom Petty on Thursday and Linda Thompson on Friday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien features The Violent Femmes on Friday overnight; The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn gets weird with The Flaming Lips on Monday overnight; and Saturday Night Live's musical guest this weekend is Norah Jones.
New Releases Coming Tuesday, December 10:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change
Aaliyah - I Care 4 U (Universal) rarities, re-mixes and material she was working on at the time of her death, with the first pressing containing a bonus DVD
Analyze That - original motion picture soundtrack (TVT) electronic jazz funk by DJ David Holmes
Arrogance - The 5'11\\\" Record (Gaff Music) CD issue of this lost gem of early 1980s North Carolina power pop featuring a young Don Dixon
Jett Brando - Jagged Junktion EP (Go Kart) featuring members of the Rye Coalition and All Natural Lemon
Catch Me If You Can - original motion picture soundtrack (Dreamworks) with Judy Garland's "Embraceable You" and Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly with Me"
Common - Electric Circus (MCA) with guests Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Mary J. Blige
Tom Constanten - 88 Keys to Tomorrow (Gaff Music) excellent new CD from the Grateful Dead keyboardist, featuring original compositions and his take on the Dead's "Dark Star," Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," and Bach's "Fantasy in C Minor"
Creeper Lagoon - Remember the Future (Arena Rock) new EP
The Delgados - Hate (Matador) vinyl LP issue of the group's new CD, which won't be released until January, reuniting the band with producer Dave Fridmann
DJ Envy - DJ Envy Block Party Volume 1: The Desert Storm Mixtape (Epic) with guests Ja Rule, Rah Digga, Memphis Bleek, and Busta Rhymes
La Boheme - Broadway cast recording (Dreamworks) the Puccini classic newly interpreted by Baz Luhrmann
Lil' Flip - The Leprechaun (Sucka Free/Columbia) with guest Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - original motion picture soundtrack (Reprise)
Alanis Morissette - Feast on Scraps: Inside Under Rug Swept (Maverick) CD or DVD featuring live material, eight previously unreleased songs from the album's recoding sessions, and an acoustic version of "Hands Clean"
Edwin McCain - Mile Marker: Songs from the Acoustic Highway (ATC Records) DVD release
Gary Numan - Warriors and I, Assassin (Beggars Banquet) CD re-issues from 1983 and 1982 with bonus tracks
Phish - Round Room (Elektra) 12 new studio tracks
Pinocchio - original motion picture soundtrack (Virgin) from Roberto Benigni, the star and director of this Italian re-make
Roxy Music - The Thrill of It All (Virgin) four-CD box set available for the first time in America, featuring a disc of previously unreleased tracks, re-mixes, and B sides
Sigur Ross - ( ) (Fat at/Bubblecore) two-LP 180-gram-audiophile-vinyl version of the group's "untitled" atmospheric masterpiece
Swizz Beatz - Ghetto Stories: Volume 1 (Dreamworks) with guests P. Diddy, Jadakiss, Shyne, Mashonda, and more
Throbbing Gristle - 24 Hours of TG (Mute) limited-edition 24-CD set re-issuing the band's rare 24-cassette box set
various artists - Making Singles, Drinking Doubles (Bloodshot) celebrating the label's 100th release, this 18-track collection features rare singles and other rarities from the Waco Brothers, Kelly Hogan, Andre Williams, and Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys